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Extra help pages Centre 28

Word formation
Prexes are added to the beginning of words to change their meaning. There is a
list of common prexes in the appendices at the end of this book.
Here are some common prexes that are used to make opposite and often
negative meanings. They are all used with adjectives, and dis- and un- are used
with some verbs too.

dis- dissimilar, disappear in- inaccurate, inexpensive

il- illegal, illogical ir- irregular, irresponsible
im- impossible, impatient un- uncertain, uncover

1 Use the prexes im-, in-, and un- to make the opposites of these science
words. Use the dictionary to help you choose the correct prex.
1 saturated 2 permeable 3 organic 4 miscible 5 soluble
Prexes are often used to show numbers, especially in science.

mono-, uni- one monosaccharide, monozygotic, unicellular,

bi-, di- two bimetallic, bisect, dioxide, disaccharide
centi- a hundred centigrade, centilitre, centimetre
kilo- a thousand kilobyte, kilogram, kilowatt
milli- a thousandth millimetre, millilitre, millisecond
multi-, poly- many multicellular, polygon, polymer

2 There are many other prexes used in English. Look at the prexes used in
the words below and match them to the meanings on the right.
1 hydroelectric relating to living things
2 interglacial relating to water
3 biodiversity preventing or destroying
4 haemoglobin between
5 antiseptic relating to blood

3 Now use those prexes to complete the words in bold letters in the examples
1 I have installed some new .. virus software.
2 Measure the angle at the .. section of the two lines.
3 One sign of the disease of rabies is .. phobia.
4 After the operation, he began to .. rrhage severely.
5 We would like to be able to run our car on .. fuel.
Centre 29 Extra help pages

Sufxes are added at the end of words to change their meaning. There is a list of
common sufxes in the appendices at the end of this book.
The following sufxes are often used to make verbs:

-ify nitrify, magnify -ize computerize, oxidize

-ate hydrogenate, pollinate

The sufx tion is often used to form nouns from these and other verbs, but be
careful with this ending:
You may need to add -ication, e.g. magnify  magnification.
You may need to change the verb ending, or take a bit off, e.g. absorb 
absorption, oxidize  oxidation.
If you are not sure, check in the dictionary.

4 Make nouns from the following verbs, using the sufx tion. Use the
dictionary to help you choose the correct form.
1 pollinate 2 nitrify 3 circulate 4 computerize
Other sufxes that are often used to make nouns are:

-ness happiness, sickness -ist chemist, scientist

-ment development, improvement -er/-or browser, conductor

NOTE: Adding a sufx to a word sometimes changes its pronunciation. Look at

how the stress changes in these words:
accelerate  acceleration lter  ltration distil  distillation
Sufxes that are often used to make adjectives include:

-al biological, digital -ful hopeful, careful

-ous famous, androgynous -y dirty, happy

Adjectives ending in able or ible describe things that can have a certain thing
done to them.

5 Match the two parts of each sentence.

1 Biodegradable packaging a divisible by three.
2 Malleable substances b other substances can pass
3 The number nine is through it.
4 Substances that cannot be c can be bent into a different
mixed together shape.
5 If a layer of something is d decays naturally over time.
permeable e are immiscible.